Investor Sharks

Kirkland's Local 'Shark Tank': Student Edition

Investor Sharks Northwest, hosted by the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Kirkland Performance Center, provides ambitious students with the opportunity to present their ideas or currently operating companies to experienced investors in the Pacific Northwest. In November 2022, the Kirkland community came together to support these students in their live, Shark Tank-style presentations at the KPC.  The judges included Melissa Acton-Buzard/Chameleon Technologies, Dave DuBois/Banner Bank, Indresen Pillay/Morgan Mechanical, Inc., and Will Arora/Charger.

The four companies that presented to judges were HydroDaily by Lake Washington High School students Shivali Panda and Weilson Geng, Alerchic by Laney Brackett (Inglemoor High), Niblet by Redmond High Student Nishita Bhakar, and SipSafe by Anika Joshi (Tesla STEM). 

The winner of the first place $1500 prize was SipSafe–a snap-on sensor enabling water fountains to function as touchless devices. Anika, a high school freshman, invented the product in 2020, hyper-aware of the bacteria transmission taking place on high-touch surfaces. Even through the pandemic recovery stages, water fountains have more germs on them than a toilet seat, and are connected to various deadly diseases including rotavirus in children. 

Anika believed that she could design an eco-friendly, affordable solution. Several prototypes later, SipSafe is now installed in Bellevue grocery stores, restaurants, and the Kirkland City Hall. Anika hopes to soon install the technology at local schools and create safer communities. For future versions of the product, she intends to program a cutoff timer in the software, so the fountain isn’t running for more than thirty seconds (in case an object is blocking the sensor). Anika also wants to lower the cost of production by using injection molding rather than 3D printing the product shell. 

Investor Shark judges also heard presentations of HydroDaily–a Bluetooth attachment to daily-use water bottles that promotes a healthier lifestyle by reminding owners to drink water based on predetermined goals. Another runner-up, Alerchic, is a trendy wearable bracelet with an injectable cartridge of epinephrine to temporarily treat a severe allergic reaction. Niblet, a finalist for the second time, is a subscription service for in-home container farms that enable families to grow their own organic produce that fits their lifestyle.

Each pitch included company descriptions, target market, unique selling propositions, cost of production, marketing, strategy/implementation, and other core aspects of a business plan. The judges provided valuable feedback to the students, highlighting their companies’ strengths, areas for growth, and potential expansion. Judges and audience members alike were amazed by the students’ exceptional presentations and dedication to solving real-world health problems with human-centered design thinking.